By Senator Barbara Boxer
Today, House Republicans voted for the 33rd time to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It is stunning that Republicans have voted nearly three dozen times to take away life-saving health care from America's families - heath care that is being used right now by millions in our communities.
While today's vote is purely symbolic because Democrats in the Senate will stop it, the American people deserve to know what is specifically at stake for them and their loved ones if the Republicans get their way.
If the health care law were to be repealed, we would go back to the dangerous system we had with people kicked off their insurance when they got sick and families driven into poverty by soaring premiums and health care costs.
More than 6 million young adults would no longer be guaranteed that they can stay on their parent's plan until they are 26. Why would anyone want to repeal that?
At least 54 million Americans with private insurance who are now guaranteed access to free preventive services under health care reform could lose access to free mammograms, vaccines and other life-saving health care.
Five million seniors across the country would no longer get help with their prescription drug costs. If the Republicans get their way, many of these seniors will go back to choosing between taking their prescription drugs or eating dinner.
Millions of seniors would also lose access to free preventive services under Medicare. Under the health care law, 32 million Medicare patients get these services for free, including cancer screenings and flu shots.
If the Republicans repeal health care, there are 105 million Americans who will once again face lifetime limits on the care they can get from their health insurance plans.
And how about the millions of children who are now getting coverage even though they have a pre-existing condition? Before this law, too many of them couldn't. So if a child was born with a heart defect, even if it was something that could be treated, they couldn't get insurance. If health reform is repealed, those children could once again be denied coverage.
Repealing health care reform would also de-fund community health care centers across the country. These health centers see patients whether or not they are insured, and charge based on people's ability to pay. They offer critical care in underserved communities where it is needed most.
And these are just some of the benefits of the law that are already in effect today. If Republicans succeed in repealing this law, Americans will also lose the benefits of health care reform that will come into place in 2014.
Americans would lose access to health insurance exchanges, marketplaces which will be set up in 2014 where individuals, families and small businesses can go to shop for quality, affordable health insurance.
Insurance companies will be able to refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Insurers will also be able to charge women more for the same health insurance. In California, insurers in the past have charged women as much as 39 percent more than men for the same coverage.
Repeal will also allow insurers to go on setting arbitrary annual dollar limits on health care benefits that allow them to stop paying for your care when they want.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney boasts that he will repeal health care reform on his first day in office. So people really need to be reminded which party will hurt them from day one.
We cannot allow Republicans to take us back to a broken health care system that left too many families at risk. We cannot allow them to take away these critical benefits from millions of Americans. It would be devastating for our families - our seniors, women, children and communities that desperately need quality, affordable care.